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South Island Aggregates target of arson, vandalism

Jun 07 2012

A Shawnigan Lake business was the target of arson and vandalism on late Monday or early Tuesday.

Someone used pink spray paint to deface outbuildings and dump trucks at South Island Aggregates at 460 Stebbings Rd. The words spray-painted on equipment included an expletive and the word “No.”

A piece of heavy equipment called a track stacker — used for loading barges and valued at close to $400,000 — was destroyed by fire. The loader was insured.

The matter is being investigated by Shawnigan Lake RCMP, which said that evidence suggests the fire was deliberately set.

Bruce Fraser, the area’s director on the Cowichan Valley Regional District, believes the crime could be related to an ongoing dispute over SIA’s bid to create a disposal site for contaminated soil.

The vandalism “is the kind of thuggery you get when people take advantage of a protest of any kind,” said Fraser on Wednesday after a visit to the site.

“They burned a $400,000 piece of equipment and destroyed it completely,” Fraser said. “This piece of arson was targeted at a highly valuable and new piece of equipment that is key to that operation. This was a targeted arson.”

The people voicing concerns over the contaminated soil are concerned about the watershed, he said. Acts like this “cheapens the debate, and that’s a nasty byproduct.”

SIA has an application before the province to fill in a quarry with contaminated soil from developers and other sources.

“Some of that would be treated on site and buried, some of it would be put into plastic-liner cells and sequestered for all time in the bottom of the pit,” Fraser said.

If the application is approved, it would be the only facility of its kind on Vancouver Island.

Hundreds of people attended an open house last week to tell SIA what they thought of the venture.

The issue of contaminated soil has been simmering for years but made headlines recently after three loads of dirt and asphalt were dumped on a driveway on south Shawnigan Road.

The matter turned out to be a dispute between two people, but prompted the CVRD to seek a meeting with the province.

CVRD representatives recently met with Environment Minister Terry Lake about contaminated fill being trucked into Cowichan from development sites in Victoria. The minister agreed to work with the district to find a resolution.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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